An Op-ed by: Marissa Burkett, Audio/Visual Editor
Congressman Matt Salmon, Representative (R–AZ 5th District), visited Thunderbird on Tuesday, March 31, to speak about trends and opportunities for business in Latin America and Asia. One of the only members of the House who speaks fluent Chinese, many students signed up to hear him speak (and to a special lunch beforehand) about potential opportunities in the countries in which they hope to find employment.
The congressman also was sure to speak for a bit on his partisan platform and thoughts on the current administration’s actions, a topic which was not appreciated by all in the crowd, which brings me to ask a bigger question: Should visiting scholars be allowed to speak about their politics when under the guise of speaking about global business?
This is not the first time that this has happened, even in my short time here, where a visiting speaker used his platform to address partisan politics in addition to the topic at hand. In some of these cases, the talks have been mandatory. Thanks to the diversity of this student body, naturally there will be people in each audience who a) agree, b) disagree, or c) are not interested in hearing about U.S. political opinions at all. Thus, there will always be some uncomfortable audience members when politics are brought up unannounced.
Although clearly Thunderbird cannot tell these speakers what to say, I question if there is not a different way to market and communicate what the content of the speech will be in advance. This would alleviate the discomfort of the students who came to hear about Chinese business and instead heard about how our nation’s administration is not doing enough to support business in China.